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Need help with figuring driving time and first day itinerary

Atlanta, Georgia
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Need help with figuring driving time and first day itinerary

We will be driving from Cody to Yellowstone in late June, via the Chief Joseph Highway/Beartooth Pass. I would like to drive east on the Beartooth Pass just for the scenery, then backtrack and enter through the NE entrance. I have looked at going as far as Rock Creek Resort and then turning around, but not sure if we will go that far just to back track. We have reservations at Roosevelt Lodge that night and I understand check in is at 4:30pm. I am hoping to leave Cody at least by 7 – 7:30am and have calculated it may take approximately 4.5 – 5 hours to get to Yellowstone with this plan. I am a little worried that this may take longer though.

First question, does my calculation seem realistic at all, or am I way off? I understand that if there is wildlife as we are driving in through Lamar Valley and we stop to watch, that would definitely make our trip in take longer (and would be worth it).

Second, assuming that we are arriving in Yellowstone in the early afternoon and check in isn’t until 4:30, what is a good game plan for those few hours? Should we try to go check out Mammoth Hot Springs or the Canyon area… or is that entirely too far? I would like to check in at Roosevelt as early as we can so that we don’t get the last cabin that has been picked over.

We don’t have as many days as I would ideally love to have, so I am trying to make the most of our time. I understand the park is extremely spread out and my thinking may be way off… if so, please don’t laugh too hard at me. The last time I was at Yellowstone was over 30 years ago when I was in fifth grade, so I’m really looking forward to this trip! Thank you for any advice.

N. Idaho
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1. Re: Need help with figuring driving time and first day itinerary

If you drive Beartooth, you need to go at least to the *Bear's Tooth* overlook. The best parts of the highway are up at the top on the plateau area. If you are just going to drive to Top of the World store or around there, then you are not getting the really phenomenal portion of the road and I would skip it.

I believe you are underestimating a bit time-wise. I would count on at least 4 hours from the Chief Joseph intersection with 212 up to Rock Creek and back, then another hour plus thru Cooke City and Lamar to Roosevelt. The time from Cody to Chief Joseph, then driving Chief Joseph to the intersection of 212 would be at least an hour, probably longer as you will want to stop a time or 2 on that road as well. Basically count the whole day.

I don't know how they assign the cabins at Roosevelt. I will PM Jenmarie as she used to work the front desk there.

If you do get there early or check in and want to drive some, I would go to Petrified Tree (the tree is not much but there are often black bear back in there) and yes on to Mammoth if you want.

Pam

Edited: 7:31 pm, January 24, 2014
Atlanta, Georgia
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2. Re: Need help with figuring driving time and first day itinerary

Thank you very much for your reply. That's exactly what I was looking for and this is very helpful. I wasn't sure how far to drive east on Beartooth before turning around, so I will make a note with the information you gave me. I obviously want to drive far enough without just burning up my time, so that's good to know.

Thank you again for your help!!

Burlington, Iowa...
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3. Re: Need help with figuring driving time and first day itinerary

Do you only have a reservation for one night? If you do, they'll just give you a random cabin number when you check in. You can check in early and get the paperwork and a cabin number assigned. If it's not clean they won't tell you the number until it's ready. What type of cabin do you have reserved?

Atlanta, Georgia
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4. Re: Need help with figuring driving time and first day itinerary

No, we have a reservation for the first two nights at Roosevelt (2 doubles without a bathroom) and then a third night at Old Faithful (cabin with a bathroom). I'm not too worried about getting the "best" cabin or anything. I am happy just to have one. I just didn't want last pick. :)

Thank you very much also for your reply!! Good info and that helps me to know!

Burlington, Iowa...
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5. Re: Need help with figuring driving time and first day itinerary

They will assign you a cabin number the night before you arrive since you're there for multiple nights. You can request close to the bathroom or close to the creek if you prefer. They'll try their best to accommodate you.

Atlanta, Georgia
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6. Re: Need help with figuring driving time and first day itinerary

Cool.... That sounds great! One more question, and this will probably sound me sound completely crazy... I read some post somewhere on this forum that said there's a ranger around at night because of bears, in case you have to make a bathroom run in the middle of the night. Is that true? I'm just curious about that one.

Burlington, Iowa...
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7. Re: Need help with figuring driving time and first day itinerary

There are two security guards that walk around the location all night. However, after spending two summers there and having to use the shared bath, I have never run in to any animals during my night time trips. Although I was careful not to drink much before bed, since my cabin was quite a ways from the bathroom my first year. :)

Epsom, United...
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8. Re: Need help with figuring driving time and first day itinerary

Jenny B, we plan to drive Beartooth from Cooke City (just outside the NE entrance to YNP) for our trip in September. Originally, I was thinking of driving to Red Lodge and doing a loop back round to the East, South and Chief Joseph but under D0bby's advice (always listen to D0bby's advice :-) we decided to do a there and back on Beartooth to enjoy it twice and get the benefit of vistas in all directions.

Now, I reckon the Beartooth is one of those annoying things whereby if you don't do the whole lot, there'll always be someone saying, "oh you must just drive an extra mile to ...". So, with that in mind, if you drive up to the West Plateau, as D0bby suggests, bear in mind that just a few miles NE are fabulous high views over Gardner Lake and Twin Lakes pretty much from your car (though it probably is better to pull in to the few yards available before the cliff edge and get out of the car). And if you make it that far, why then you may as well carry on down to Rock Creek Vista Point, which is pretty much right at the top of the zig-zags down from the Plateau. A lot of guides to the Beartooth Highway indicate that this is the last "must-see" point on the Beartooth heading East (I don't recall anyone so rating the Rock Creek Resort :-).

If you do end up with a bit of time at Roosevelt, you could visit Tower Fall, which is just a few miles south and pretty spectacular. There are also interesting and scenic pullouts on the way (e.g., Calcite Springs) and you can apparently get some spiffing ice cream at the Fall. Or you could do a short walk to Lost Creek Falls from Roosevelt or a few miles on a loop round Lost Lake. Lastly, on your way to Roosevelt, you could hike the short, but steep, trail to Trout Lake, which is lovely and you have a fair chance of seeing otter families playing and/or snacking on the trout (would the trout be really active and quite a sight then too? - perhaps someone else can confirm).

USA
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9. Re: Need help with figuring driving time and first day itinerary

Call & request a cabin right by the restrooms if concerned, that's what my friend did when we stayed at a roughrider.

I agree with Pam (of course LOL) that you are underestimating the time from Cody-Chief J- Beartooth-Beartooth-Roosevelt. I would say 6 + hrs. Drive to Rock Creek Vista for sure.

Don't be concerned about getting to Roosevelt early as all the cabins with shared restroom are about the same. I just feel blessed when I can stay there a couple of nights!

Yellowstone Nat...
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10. Re: Need help with figuring driving time and first day itinerary

Simon has some good suggestions there. Just one thing, though ... "it probably is better to pull in to the few yards available before the cliff edge and get out of the car..." I'm sure Simon meant a PULLOUT, specifically intended and designed for stopping vehicles and getting out and viewing the scenery. Never just stop at any old place along the side of the road.

ENJOY!